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Euro­pean zoos and NGOs launch two-​year cam­paign to save song­birds from extinction

pub­lished 30 Sep­tem­ber 2017 | mod­i­fied 07 Decem­ber 2018

silent forest logoThe Euro­pean Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), together with TRAF­FIC, BirdLife Inter­na­tional and the IUCN Asian Song­bird Trade Spe­cial­ist Group, today launched a joint cam­paign in a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort to save iconic Asian song­bird species from extinction.

The Silent For­est cam­paign will raise aware­ness of the dev­as­tat­ing effects of the trade in song­birds across South­east Asia, and will also raise funds for field con­ser­va­tion projects that are work­ing to reverse the decline in num­bers of some of the world’s most beau­ti­ful birds. Tee­ter­ing on the brink of extinc­tion, birds such as the Bali Myna and Javan Green Mag­pie are highly sought after in mar­kets across the region. Own­ing a song­bird has long been an inte­gral part of South­east Asian cul­ture, but as the region devel­ops, song­birds are fetch­ing increas­ingly high prices in the mar­kets, encour­ag­ing trap­pers to clear birds from huge areas of forest.

The Asian song­bird cri­sis has reached a tip­ping point: with­out imme­di­ate action, it is almost cer­tain their voices will be silenced for­ever in the forest.

Kanitha Krish­nasamy, Act­ing South­east Asia Regional Direc­tor of TRAF­FIC, the world’s lead­ing NGO on wildlife trafficking.

We aim to raise the pro­file of this cri­sis both in Europe and in the range States and have a plan in place, in the form of a Con­ser­va­tion Strat­egy for these birds which this cam­paign feeds directly into, ” Krish­nasamy adds.

We need to estab­lish a sus­tain­able model that respects both local cul­ture and laws with­out destroy­ing the incred­i­ble rich­ness of South­east Asia’s bio­di­ver­sity; that’s a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge, but this is a very strong coali­tion of part­ners, and there are some amaz­ing projects that the cam­paign will support.”

Indone­sian birds on the brink as forests plun­dered
Indone­sian bird breed­ing pro­gramme tries to turn the tide in a coun­try where once-​common species are being dri­ven to the brink of extinc­tion, as an obses­sion for bird-​keeping and even avian singing con­tests fuels unprece­dented demand.

(Source: AFP news agency YouTube channel)

Thomas Ouhel of Liberec Zoo, and Chair of the Cam­paign, pointed to the dif­fer­ence that funds raised by Euro­pean zoos could make: “If we can per­suade traders to work with con­ser­va­tion­ists and breed­ers rather than pil­lag­ing the forests, there’s a real chance to save these birds by chang­ing atti­tudes towards the own­er­ship of song­birds. Fund­ing for the breed­ing and con­ser­va­tion projects, linked to edu­ca­tional work in the local com­mu­ni­ties can halt and even­tu­ally reverse the decline in song­birds species, bring­ing back the music of the for­est for the ben­e­fit of future generations.”

Silent For­est will run for two years, and is aimed at rais­ing €400,000 from Euro­pean zoos and their vis­i­tors to help save flag­ship species of which most are Crit­i­cally Endan­gered as iden­ti­fied by the coali­tion and the Inter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Nature (IUCN). Lead­ing biol­o­gists from the EAZA and beyond will also work on sci­en­tific mea­sures to increase pro­tec­tion for these species.

Lis­ten to The Silent For­est: Song­birds at RNABC Radio with Kirsti Melville about the song­bird cri­sis and more in South­east Asia:

(Source: EAZA news release, 23.09.2017)

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